This photo gets reposted once every few months, it’s a historic image.
But what I wish people could also repost along with it is the friendship between Jesse Owens and Luz Long (the German silver medalist giving the Nazi salute).
Jesse won the gold Luz was the first to congratulate him, and walked with him to the dressing room.
Jesse later: “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler… I would melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”
Luz later served in the Wehrmacht. The two corresponded during the war. In his last letter, Long wrote to Jesse and asked him to contact his son after the war and tell him about his father and “what times were like when we were not separated by war. I am saying—tell him how things can be between men on this earth.” Luz Long was sadly killed in Sicily in 1943.
Jesse Owens kept communication with Luz’s family, and later served as best man at Luz’s son’s wedding.
So it seems yet again one chooses oneness over division.
While this pic is iconic because a black man beat a Nazi, Owen’s would return to an America where he was a second class citizen. Where he couldn’t eat, drink, or congregate in certain areas because he was considered less than human by a large cross section of America, the same cross section that somehow considered themselves better than Nazi Germany. It’s honestly mind-boggling, and because we never addressed it, it would take an additional 30 years for federal law to enshrine protection for an entire class of Americans. And the continuing scars haunt us to this very day.
Yet upon his return to America Owens wasn’t invited to the White House to meet the president with the rest of the Olympians because he was black, but his white peers were able.
Oneness…. Division…. We will speak on this in the next podcast September 8th, 2020.